Wednesday, September 27, 2006


So, I emailed my final draft to my committee yesterday. Now I wait. Wait for them to read. Wait for them to comment.

Then I get to write again, to change/add/delete content to please the committee.


A full-time faculty position opening came through my email inbox Monday. It's a college in the state university system, one that's known for its focus on nontraditional adult populations and distance learning. It's well respected, without being so high in prestige that I don't stand a chance of getting an interview. It's the perfect position for me, everything from their MA in social policy (that's my study and teaching area), to their focus on adult nontrad students (I was an adult nontrad student), to their diverse, lower income, working student body (who was in and out of welfare and poverty for years? yep, me).

Oh yeah, and did I mention, if I work in the state system, rugrat can go to any state school tuition free.

I'll put together my cv and a cover letter this weekend and email it out next Monday. They start their review of apps on October 13. Wish me luck, I'd really love to have this one.

Monday, September 25, 2006

blowing the mind

Prepping for lecture while on meds for a major flu virus is not something I plan to do again anytime soon. Was horribly sick, but didn't feel like I could cancel class. We only meet for two hours on Saturday, and they needed this content for their papers. I didn't want to have to delay the due date on their midterm assignment, cause everything for the rest of the semester is based on that assignment.

So I muddled through, sounding semi-intelligent but a bit out of it as well. And by the end of the lecture, my voice was pretty much gone. I'd lectured myself right into laryngitis, although it was better the next day.

You know, I really hate those moments when you're speaking from your lecture notes, and you have to pause and wonder just what the fuck you were thinking when you wrote that particular bit.

Oh, btw, just got word of an asst prof position nearby. It would be a bit of a commute, but doable, with a decent salary, and it's not one of the top programs in the area, so competition won't be as fierce. They start reviewing apps October 13, so I need to have my cv and cover letter done asap.

Monday, September 18, 2006

guilt and the light

So I spent Thursday with the new 'puter.

And Friday went to various errands.

Friday night to prep for Saturday class.

So by Saturday eve, I was feeling really guilty about getting nothing done. I spent Saturday night reviewing the three stats classes -- class handouts, my notes, homework assignments -- so that Sunday I could write the data analysis plan section. I think I have it done, but I'm not sure. It's one section that I haven't seen a sample of in terms of dissertation expectations, so I'm going on instinct. I also put a little more work into the variables section, and it looks pretty darned good.

Still to do:
~section on relevance to the profession

And some touch ups on:
~theoretical framework
~lit review (a couple more paragraphs)
~making sure the references sync with the citations in the proposal, since I couldn't afford EndNotes

Taking off this Thursday/Friday as well. Should have final draft to committee on Monday, September 25.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

a conversation

Me: Honey, did you get a letter from Dr. V--- recently about your test?
RR: No, but I got a phone call from her a while ago.
Me: What did she say?
RR: I don't know, I didn't really listen to it, why?
Me: Because I already got my test results, and I wondered why you hadn't gotten yours. I worry about things like that.
RR: Oh, sorry, I didn't think about it.
Me: Well, when your phone is charged, would you please listen to the message and tell me what it says?


Me: Sweetie, did you listen to your phone message from the doctor?
RR: Yes, she said I need to get another one of those tests.
Me: You mean the biopsy?
RR: Yeah. And I hate how they say 'you have tested positive for the HPV virus.'
Me: Well, they have to give everyone their results.
RR: No, not that. It's how they say it, really loud, like it's a life or death situation and somehow I don't know it's serious. I know already, I don't want to hear it again.
Me: I know honey, I understand.


Why the hell does the doc always call the kid with results anyway? I understand the whole confidentiality thing, but for fuck's sake, it's my insurance paying for her tests, and my money making the copay for the office visit. Kids don't take this stuff seriously. Rugrat let it go for a week, damn it. I could have had a week less of the unknown, and we'd be a week closer to an appointment.

Anyway, if you didn't figure it out from the conversation, rugrat still has the virus (a year later, and it hasn't run its course yet), and we have to go back to the colposcopist for another biopsy.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

lovin' it

Damn I really do love teaching. I was on a bit of a high after class friday. I especially loved the feeling of being back after over a year away. I didn't get the cd's done for the students for the first day -- a combination of some bad disks that rugrat had scratched beyond use, and my laptop's cd drive going belly up (but a new one's coming soon).

So I picked up a new batch of blank cd's, and I'm burning them at work (shhh!). They will have them this Saturday.First day, as is typical, there were a couple of students who panicked, telling me that policy is not their strong subject and they fear failure. So reassurances were forthcoming that I have no doubt they'll do well. And really, that's true: in my experience, the ones who are conscientious enough to verbalize their fear of failure tend to do pretty well in class. The ones who think they know everything are the ones who tend to do a bit poorly in my classes.

And then there are the liberal-leaning students who managed to pick the word 'conservative' out of the hat/bowl, and now are required to do all their assignments from the point of view of a conservative-leaning nonprofit. One student was very pessimistic about her ability to do the assignments from a conservative point of view. I just kept smiling and encouraging her, telling her I had total confidence in her. She emailed me later to apologize for not being more open-minded.

I'm already excited for the next class. :)

Monday, September 11, 2006

the piper

I was walking from the parking garage to the building in which I work this morning. As I came closer to the middle of the campus, I began to hear faint sounds of music of some sort. A few more steps, and the music was distinguishable as bagpipes. One bagpipe, to be more specific.

As I rounded the corner and came in sight of the Parade, as we call the large grassy area in the midst of the campus, I could see him. The lone piper, standing roughly in the middle of the Parade, slowly walking back and forth, and piping a quiet, beautiful tune that I did not recognize.

As odd as it may sound, I like bagpipes, when they are well played. The deep, rather plaintive sounds will often bring out that savage beast.

It was clear why the piper was on the Parade. This is the fifth anniversary of 9/11. I'm quite sure the president of the university himself arranged for the piper, who is probably a student at the university.

For the most part, I've avoided all references to this particular anniversary, mainly because I think it is too politicized. I'm tired of elected officials using what should be a nonpolitic moment of remembrance for those lost to further their own private agendas -- not to mention the media stations and channels using it to gain more listeners/watchers.

But walking to the office this morning, the lone piper set a tone for the day, and the campus, although busy at 8:15 in the morning -- students, faculty, and staff chatting as they walked -- became a bit more hushed, more reverent, as they came close enough to hear the piper.

There was no commercialism or media in this moment, just the wail of the pipes in the chill morning air. And isn't that the best way to remember?


Friday, September 08, 2006


Class starts tomorrow afternoon. I'm excited to get back into the classroom after a year away.I didn't get all the cd's burned, partly because the cd's were bad (rugrat had left them lying around and they were all scratched -- I hadn't noticed) and partly 'cause my laptop cd drive isn't working very well anymore. Seems it wasn't really about the program I was using after all.

I bought new cd's on the way home tonight, and I'll burn them during the week on my work 'puter. It's just as well, since I found a few more articles I'd like to add to the information on the student disks. And they really don't need them the first day, the second week of class will be just fine.Here's to tomorrow. I've got a room full of students -- at least 30, and this is grad, not undergrad. Writing intensive. Which means I've got a freakin' lot of reading to do this semester.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

treasure and trash, part 2

part 1

As she watched the children playing, she began to relax a bit. She was never hugely comfortable anywhere; always, in the back of her mind, was the knowledge that things could go badly very quickly. And go badly they did.

As she relaxed, her grip on her treasure loosened a bit, and the smoothness of the glass caused it to slip from her grasp. A dance of lunacy ensued, as she grasped it, it slipped, she grasped it again, and it slipped again. She juggled it for a moment, and then, it dropped to the ground. To the cement surface of the carport. And the accompanying sound of shattered glass filled the immediate area. Everyone turned to look, and one of her most hellish nightmares occurred -- everyone staring at her. And she just knew, she knew, they were all laughing at her, every single one of them.

Her freckled cheeks grew beet red, she began to perspire, and she froze in place, wishing the ground would reach up and swallow her, protecting her from the gazes of the other kids. And as they just as quickly lost interest and went back to playing, the mommie came out of the house nearby. It was a mommie that didn't seem to like her very much. A mommie that came out a lot to send her on her way. Mother cub, protecting her own kids from the white trash that had come to play. Actually, most of the mommies were like that. They were always angry, and sending her away.

She didn't think it odd that all the other mommies were at home, because her mommie was at home too. But why didn't the other mommies sleep? Her mommie slept all day, and the babysitter came at night. Didn't all mommies sleep in the daytime? Why weren't these mommies in bed? Maybe that's why this mommie was mad. Maybe the noise woke her up. Her mommie was always really mad if she got woke up.

She didn't know why the mommies always told her to go home, but it made her ache inside every time -- and now was no exception. As the mommie came barreling out with a broom and dustpan, she pointed at the girl with the pale eyes and strawberry blonde hair, and said 'I told you to go home.'

The girl didn't move, but her gaze left the mommie's cold, angry face and moved down to her now shattered treasure. She noticed one large piece of glass with cold cream still intact, and she surreptitiously bent down and picked up the one piece left of her treasure as the mommie attacked the mess with her broom.

After the mess had been swept, the mommie looked back over at the girl, forlorn and carefully holding her piece of treasure. She came close to the girl and told her, as coldly and firmly as possible, to go away now and not to come back. And to throw away the trash before someone got hurt. Then the mommie marched back up to her home, calling her own kids as she went.

And with a crack, the screen door slammed shut, mommie and kids inside and safe from the trash. As the little girl stared at the door, the mommie turned around, and deliberately latched the screen door. She stood there behind the screen, yelling at the little girl to go away this minute and leave them alone.

The little girl stood there, aching deeply inside, tears welling in her eyes, blinking them back. Even at her tender age, she knew not to cry. She refused to let the tears come. But she couldn't hide the emotion in her eyes -- she had never been able to, and probably never would. Even without the tears, anyone could see what she felt if they just looked in her eyes. Like her mommie always said, 'you don't have to open your mouth, I can see the sass in your eyes.' When she got a little older, she learned how to hide her eyes, so that mommie and everyone else wouldn't see the sass there.

She stood there, still and quiet, for seconds more, looking at the back of the mommie as she disappeared behind the screen door. And then the little girl turned around, and slowly trudged away.


Friday, September 01, 2006

jobs, jobs, jobs

It's no secret really that I would love to teach full-time if I had the chance. And the director of our doctoral program is very good about sending out via email any teaching opportunities that he hears of.

And I probably stand a pretty good chance of getting a ft position -- in North Carolina, Ohio, Texas, or Rhode Island, which are some of the areas hiring in my field for next fall. But I can't afford to relocate, and even if I could, I like where I am -- I don't want to move. And neither does the rugrat.

But I live in a competitive, urban area, and all the programs around here can choose from the best of the best of the faculty out there. Everyone wants to live and work here. And although I've been teaching successfully as an adjunct for three years (starting my fourth), I have not published. And I've been out of my field (social policy) for a few years, mainly because I needed a job that wouldn't interfere so much with my doctoral studies. So I don't have the most current experience in the field; I'm not as 'competitive' as others in terms of recent experience. Saying I spoke before a Senate Committee that included Hilary herself, for example, doesn't mean much when they find out it was five years ago.

I would consider starting at a community college (really, it's about the teaching for me), but at the CC level, social work is oriented to human services, and policy courses aren't a part of the curriculum.

So I'm really up the proverbial creek without a paddle. I'm not particularly confident that I'll find something local. Even if I play the former poverty-level welfare recipient turned Ph.D. card, I don't know how much it's worth out there.


All this work, for what? I'm not sure.